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Clare and Chrissy Reflect on Romance

Clare: Welcome to wonderful October. Autumn is officially in full swing, the apples are crisp, the air is crisper, and filled with the nostalgic scent of burning leaves.

Chrissy: And Anniversaries.

Clare: Pardon?

Chrissy: Anniversaries are in the air as well. Yours. Mine. The vast decades in between.

Clare: Gawd, I’ll agree as long as we quickly skip past the decades’ part. But you are right, now that we’ve been wined and dined in celebration…

Chrissy: … or beer and brat’ed as the case may be…

Clare: We couldn’t help but chat about a topic near and dear to our hearts and keyboards.

Chrissy: Booze?

Clare: Romance.

Chrissy: ‘Cause we’re silly that way, (and it will keep us away from another "Autumn" versus "Fall" conversation).

Clare: Did you ever notice how everyone’s idea of romance seems to be different?

Chrissy: Which is good, otherwise a lot of us might end up feeling a bit unfulfilled.

Clare: You mean, different strokes for different folks…

Chrissy: Thank goodness ^_~.

Clare: So, this being the Internet age, we started with a little investigation into La Romance. El romance, romantikken, romans ki… In Romanorum.

Chrissy: As you can see, Clare has now exhausted Google translate...

Clare: Languages both dead and alive *hehe*.

Chrissy: Undaunted, we fixed our steely gaze on Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary online.

Clare: Both sites informed us that romance is “the pleasurable feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love”.

Chrissy: Interesting description, but like a few dates I can recall, vaguely unsatisfying. I hear the words, but I don’t *feel* the sensations. I need more.

Clare: Of course you do. You always do. Fine. What do you suggest?

Chrissy: Seeing as we are authors of erotic romance, and visual learners, my mind immediately flashed to paperback book covers. After all, growing up they were one of our first exposures to what would be considered an expression of romance.

Clare: Those were the days. With nary a headless torso to be found on my Grandmother’s bookshelf.

Chrissy: Hey, I happen to be extremely fond of the headless torso book cover.

Clare: *Sigh* I knew it.

Chrissy: And just like a good book and cover, we want our romance to be more about the show than the tell.

Clare: In other words, you can talk a good game, but you’d better be prepared to back it up with some action. Let me repeat that loudly, in hopes the hubby will hear. But doesn’t the perception of romance seem to shift according to the times?

Chrissy: Good point. For example, if I believe the residents of my Grandmother’s nursing home, romance during WWII flared quickly, burned bright in the uncertainty of the times, and then was pushed aside in favor of the more practical aspects of repopulating a lost generation.

Clare: That does seem a trifle grim. Less mystery and excitement, more about being good breeding stock.

Chrissy: Maybe some of the gals on those "Teen Mum" television shows ought to consider things from this angle. MIght give them a whole new perspective...

Clare: Down, Chrissy. Down.

Chrissy: Right. Do you remember the early days of cover art? Exotic locals, swarthy strangers, and candlelight dinners behind a dewy-eyed heroine? Oh how we longed to be swept away to a tent somewhere in the desert. Sand in tender crevices and all other practicalities be damned.

Clare: And in honour of the unfinished bodice-ripper on my hard drive, how about the Fabio era of romance? All those chiseled torsos, heaving bosoms, and quivering thighs.

Chrissy: *Sigh* I think the last time my thighs quivered was after my Introduction to Zumba class.

Clare: And I could never get my hair to achieve the same perfectly tousled coif that he did. Quite disheartening.

Chrissy: Still, with one quick glance at the cover of the book clutched so eagerly in the hands of the woman seated beside us in the doctor or dentist’s office, (what IS he wearing in that photo, btw...) we instantly knew *there* was romance.

Clare: False advertising, honestly. Nothing in real life ever comes close.

Chrissy: Do you think our idea of romance has shifted again with the times and the cover art? There are still no headless torsos in my day to day routine.

Clare: Given my choice, a swarthy stranger and a candlelit dinner versus a strapping fellow willing to haul the laundry about, change a few nappies, and pitch in when it comes to cooking the evening meal? Swarthy strangers just don’t go the distance.

Chrissy: Not even the wounded, or oh so mysterious hero? With or without an eye patch.

Clare: Will his lack of depth perception (or excessive guyliner) interfere with his ability to do dishes?

Chrissy: And just like that, we are back to the more practical side of romance, and a laundry basket on the cover of our favorite novel.

Clare: I don’t think we ever really left it. Romance, like all things, is in the eye of the beholder and requires that lovely suspension of disbelief. Let’s face it, your idea of romance might be a real yawner to me.

Chrissy: *waggles eyebrows*

Clare: *sniggers*

Chrissy: We are so not going there. Back to the topic at hand, practical or impractical. It doesn’t matter if it’s the simple touch of skin on skin as we twine our fingers together when the kids finally go to bed, a windswept beach with only two sets of footprints, or a jet waiting on the tarmac to whisk us away…

Clare: …What matters is how we feel about it. And in the end, that’s what determines romance.

Chrissy: Hmmm, those definitions in the beginning weren’t so off, after all.

Clare: As long as we perceive the mystery and excitement in the bottom of that laundry basket, it works for us.

Clare and Chrissy: How about you? Where do you find romance in the world around you? Is it expressed in your favorite novel’s cover? Do your prefer the practical or impractical, and is it different when it comes to real life and reading? Let us know what you think and be entered in our random drawing for some Clare and Chrissy Swag. Winner to be announced at our next monthly post.

September Winner: anne_barwell - Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to Chrissy at chrissymunder@yahoo.com for your festive Clare and Chrissy Swag.

Let's raise our glass in a special thank you to Ms. London for taking a break in her whirlwind travels and stopping by for this month's chat. Remember, Pictures! We want Pictures! (and leftover chocolates!)

Missed any of our posts? Follow the 'sticky' post for these rambles of ours HERE.

Here's Chrissy! website // blog.

Here's Clare! website // blog.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
Practical for me, I think.

My husband is much more romantic than me. He's the one who remembers anniversaries and plans the occasional no-kids-excursion and whatnot. But the most romantic thing he's ever done for me was more along the lines of 'sweet'.

A couple years ago, I was having a horrible morning. I was coaching a Saturday soccer game and two of my offense players had called up sick. Everyone else for some reason kept straggling in late. The away team showed up in the same colors as ours and I had to argue with the ref about what the rules said one must do in such a situation (why don't refs read the bloody rules once in a while omg!), it was freaking freezing and I'd forgotten to bring a jacket, and the lid came off my travel cup and my coffee spilled all over the grass. Not even a sip left! It wasn't even eight in the morning yet and my day was tanked.

My husband, thoughtful guy that he is, went home somewhere in there and brought me back a flannel jacket that used to belong to my beloved grandfather who'd passed away not too long before. The second my husband set it over my shoulders, everything just... got better. A small gesture, not a grand one, and I just melted completely.

When reading romance, I'd have to say I go for the small gestures there, too. I do like the grand gesture, but it's usually the reactions to the gesture and the planning and aftermath of it that can be the most affecting. Yeah, okay, so the hero rides up to his love's door on a white steed to steal him/her away from his/her problems. But did the hero rent the horse? Did it cost him a week's pay? Isn't that more thoughtful than just nabbing what you've got out of your lush stable? Did the hero's love's jaw drop when he/she saw the hero almost falling off the horse during his Grand Entrance because the hero has no idea how to ride but damn it, this is a Romantic Gesture isn't it? Was the hero's love caught between weeping and snorting, because wow omg romantic, but also hahaha so cute!

As with everything, it depends on how the author handles it, but I'd have to say that I'm generally a practical person and so get the most out of practical romance. It's all well and good to enjoy the fantasy, but sometimes you want to see what happens after the fantasy is played out. If an author is asking me to identify with a character, I'll be wanting to see what that character would do in a situation in which I can believe I might one day find myself.

Haven't you ever wanted to see what happened when Cinderella realized Prince Charming expected her to do his laundry?
Oct. 19th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
Hi Carole, what a lovely story you shared about your husband. A wonderful example of how it's the little things, the small gestures as you mention, that carry such great weight in both fiction and real life.
(no subject) - carolecummings - Oct. 19th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Oct. 20th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 20th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Oooh. I won. Fantastic start to my day. Thank you :)
Oct. 20th, 2011 12:52 am (UTC)
Yay! You're welcome!
Oct. 19th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
And this is where I sheepishly admit I was so excited that I won last month that I hit post comment then realised I hadn't commented on the post. *mumble mumble*

I always doubletake when I read about autumn as it's spring here then I'm remembered that your seasons are opposite to ours.

I tend to find romance in what I'm reading/watching, in the interactions between people, in their actions, their body language, touch and the way they look at each other rather than the 'I love yous' and what nots. Actions speak louder than words and all of that.
Oct. 20th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
I'm glad I'm not the only one to feel slightly off when I am faced with the differences. LOL.

Ooooh, people watching for the romance - definitely showing not telling.

It's like when we're out to dinner with friends, and someone makes a comment about the elderly couple not making conversation... sometimes if you watch, they are saying volumes with their gestures and glances. A language based on a lifetime together.
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 20th, 2011 06:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 19th, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love those little, everyday details in all novels, and especially romance novels. Anyone who can make me see the magic in the little things earns my undying appreciation!

My husband has done some very sweet things recently, like buying me a set of retro coasters with 70s photos of "men in pants" (the lycra underwear kind). And when he does the washing up when it's my turn? Yeah, that's lovely. If an author shows me two characters doing cute things like that, I feel more secure in their HEA than if it's all been fireworks and hot sex.

I realise I'm advocating fluffy curtain fic here, God help me. All things in moderation, please. Too much cute and I will vomit.
Oct. 20th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
LOL - fluffy curtain fic? I've not heard that description before.

And I love all these little snippets of sweetness I'm hearing. There are some wonderful men out there.
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 20th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - josephine_myles - Oct. 20th, 2011 06:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 20th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Our preference for the practical application of romance is totally crushing wine and roses. Shall we believe the entire concept was merely a marketing ploy? Who does end up cleaning all those rose petals off the sheets, anyway?

There is a commercial for Zoosk.com (a dating site) which takes the "sweeping her off her feet" stereotypes and drops them on their head. Funny the first couple of times, watching their foreheads knock together, his back goes out, he picks her up in his arms and then drops her...
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 21st, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 20th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I believe I am far too old and practical to get excited about romance. And yet I like to read about it. I think it's a lovely concept. To find someone who likes you just the way you are and doesn't try to change you. Humph. Umm. Okay, real life aside. :-) I find hand holding very romantic. Even on a cover. More so than legs wrapped around a waist. That's hot, but not really romantic. Just holding hands says I just want to touch you and be near you, not necessarily boink your brains out ... right this minute. We'll save that for later. Little touches, seeing someone give someone a kiss on the temple without really thinking about it, just that desire to touch and be close and connected is very romantic.

I also love the word romantikken. Seems like it should come with a nice plate of chicken tikka masala and some naan bread. :-) You'd think it's lunch time here or something. I'm also pretty damn sure I read that book with Fabio on the cover. I remember her kneeling in the day (which is very pokey and itchy).
Oct. 20th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
Now you've made *me* hungry. LOL. Naan, Nom, Nom.

I love the idea of the little touches and the feeling of that connection. Without it how would we move on to anything hotter?
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 21st, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 20th, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, Clare, after the Fabio comment, I think I get why WiHG is your favorite - he's got that old school romance hero thing going. :)

Chrissy, I'll be mightily disappointed to meet you if I discover there's no actual eyebrow wiggling.

Romance in my real life would be practical. Romance in my reading life can be less practical, but people should still be doing things that make sense...
Oct. 21st, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Hee! I can waggle with the best of them. It's the tasteful raising of a single brow in sardonic disdain that I struggle to master.
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 21st, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 21st, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC)
I definitely prefer the practical too.
Oct. 23rd, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
Do you think the reason we all side on the more practical side of romance is that there far more leeway in the practical application of romance than in the impractical? And if not that, then more opportunity for expression in our day to day lives?
(no subject) - stevie_carroll - Oct. 23rd, 2011 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chrissymunder - Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 25th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:01 am (UTC)
Another vote for the practical here...

In fiction, I like it when characters who seemed so set in their ways at the start of the tale have changed (but not in a beyond-all-recognition way because that would be creepy) by the end because they want to, in order to make space in their lives where the other person feels comfortable. Like in How the Other Half Lives. I loved the way Martin & Russ were influenced by each other to change, but were still recognisably themselves by the end - and, I'm sure, they both still did things that wound the other one up no end!

In real life, I always say I knew the chap who's now my husband was my kind of person when he drove from Birmingham to London via Sheffield in order to see me :-) More recently, he bought me roses for my birthday a couple of years ago - 5 different varieties, in pots, for me to plant in the garden :-D Back when he was trying to get me properly interested in the garden he bought me a packet of "Big Smile" sunflower seeds, and told me that he'd seen them & thought of me :-) I think that's about as close as we get to romance...
Oct. 23rd, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC)
Major points for pulling out Clare's story as an illustrative aid. *g*. I ca't wait until she gets to see it.

And I love to hear how the day to day actions speak far louder than any poetry could.
(no subject) - clarelondon - Oct. 25th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )